Nudism and naturism are lifestyles in which our natural bodies, sans clothes, are accepted and even celebrated. Both words mean basically the same thing: “the practice of going nude, especially in places that allow sexually mixed groups, in the belief that such practice benefits health”.
Naturism emphasizes the same freedom of going clothes-less, but with more focus on the outdoors and appreciating being part of nature.
Why Get Naked?
There are many benefits to momentarily turning our bare backs to societal conventions. Here are just a few:
- Body acceptance. This is the big one. Shucking off our chosen costumes to publicly reveal the animal beneath, requires full acceptance of what is. There is no perfect person. Not even in Hollywood. And there’s no airbrushing or camera filters to erase wrinkles, sags or extra weight. Acceptance and gratitude for our bodies are the healthiest and most loving things we can do for ourselves.
- Demonstrating nudity in a healthy, nonsexual way. The intentional choice to evolve into accepting and authentic beings who can socialize and bond without the pressure of sex degrading all interactions. Especially in the US, nonsexualized nudity is a rarity, and in the opinions of nudism practitioners, should be prioritized for a healthier society.
- Recognition and embracing that we are part of nature. Accepting our inclusion in the “animal” world takes a bit of humility. Humans have a tendency to arrogantly believe that our opposable thumbs make us somehow superior to the rest of the animal kingdom. Anyone who has ever shared a home with a dog, knows that is a bold lie. We should be so honored to acknowledge and understand that skyscrapers and technology don’t change our fundamental body experience on this earth. We are simply part of it, and should honor that truth.
- Losing our masks and defenses. Clothes, in whatever style that makes us happiest, also cloaks our vulnerability in many ways. Losing that albeit “thin” protection, can be shocking. But in a good way. In order to push our own boundaries and discover inner areas of fear and discomfort that we maybe need to work on, we must get out of our bubble.
- Comfort — swimming without clothes. Simple and beautiful! It just FEELS good to be naked! Especially in the water.
- Vitamin D — full-body sunshine. And despite all the warnings from dermatologists everywhere, the sun also answers a primordial need in us, and is wondrous when it coats our body. (Just remember to replenish sunscreen often.)
I was first exposed to the existence of nudist organizations several years ago, when I met a local couple wearing matching shirts. The shirts advertised a nearby lake that was clothing optional. Fascinated, I immediately found them online, read their online newsletter, and even reached out to them through email. I never followed through, for various life phase reasons (I was married then to someone unadventurous, and the timing didn’t seem right), but I admired and respected the intentions of the organization.
Recently, when my sister invited me to experience her new love — a nudist lake/organization she was considering supporting as a board member, I was intrigued. And terrified. As a believer in intentionally stepping outside of my comfort zone, that particular experience was absolutely on the very edge of acceptable line-crossing for me.
My sister advised me to practice at home for a few days. Following her nudist lifestyle rule #1, “Always carry a towel with you”, I got naked, and sat on a towel everywhere in my home. I cooked, ate and worked without clothing. And I learned some important aspects of the nudist lifestyle right away.
Coddled skin is over-sensitive.
As I sat shivering in my 78 degree, 3rd floor apartment, I realized clothes have made me a wimp. I dialed up my a/c at least 10 degrees to feel comfortable in only skin.
This experience might be stressful. In a good way. Like dating.
Having been on a wondrously long break from trying to woo a partner, I’m spoiled by not having to give time and energy to body maintenance. I’m also a recent recipient of pandemic-related unemployment, and I have been enjoying the hell out of not having to care about a beauty routine. However, when you’re sitting naked on your couch, you start noticing stray hairs everywhere, and omg, I can’t find my tweezers or trimmer or scissors and I need them all! Holy hell.
When you’re naked, even walking to the kitchen, reveals ALL the areas that jiggle.
I’m not ashamed of my body. I’m grateful for it. It’s certainly flawed, after two children and 48 years. But it has kept me alive and allowed me to experience some indescribable adventures.
However, there are parts that jiggle. Parts I didn’t even know about. Weird how clothes can help us deceive even ourselves! I’ll need to accept those jiggly parts fully before I reveal them to the sky and people and god in the outdoors.
I’ll need a very smooth towel.
The towel I grabbed to sit on today, is not a plush one. I don’t like plush towels. They don’t soak up water well. Coarse towels do. But apparently, a coarse towel will also leave deep dents in your butt when you sit on it for a long time.
If I’m going to walk around proudly offering my bare glutes for the world to see…I want them to be smooth and pock-free.
Clothes are a comfort zone we take for granted.
For every one of my naked homework days, it was a giant relief for me to put my clothes back on. For me, it was a…fun…experiment. But clothes feel nice. I like my clothes. I’m really grateful for them. Sometimes denying ourselves one of our creature comforts actually helps us to appreciate them more.
There’s always a good mix of terror and discomfort when we break out of our comfort zones. I don’t know why we’re designed this way, but it seems to be the only real avenue to go about true growth.
By pushing outside of our chosen “normal”, whatever level that may be, we broaden our minds and our spirits. The boost from conquering fears related to embarrassment, failure, danger and ridicule, is mightier than any comfort we may experience by staying in our life safety bubble. We never know where opportunities to push boundaries might come from, but each time we accept and choose courage, we achieve a victory.
I was ready. It was time for a new kind of butt-naked win.